Diskursens materialitet


  • Iver Neumann




The materiality of discourse The promise held out by discourse analysis is to integrate the study of social meaning, institutions and the stuff the world is made of, all in one sweeping catch. In order to fulfil this promise, the major task confronting the discourse analyst is how to engage the question of materiality. It may well be that everything is discourse and that there are detrimental effects emanating from attempts to delineate materiality from non-materiality. However, inas-much as this way of framing an answer seems to bracket the question of materiality, it does not move the discourse on discourse any further, which may be an even greater loss. The article begins to operationalise the question by drawing some distinctions between the materiality of the text and the materiality of the dis-course, and between materiality understood as formalis-ed patterns of interaction and physical infra-structure. The bulk of the argument tries to demonstrate by means of examples how it is easier to include a study of materiality into the analysis if one begins with an object of study such as a process, a subject position or a specific institution, rather than with a text or a corpus of texts. In conclusion, a model first put forward by Janice Bially is presented, where discourse appears as a circle of three interdependent concepts: values, institutions and reality.